Set in near future New Zealand, in a world where cars are too expensive for most people to own, water is rationed, and the skies are smoggy, this is a CSI-ish police procedural mixed with horror.
Penny Yee has just opened a crime lab with a large loan from her parents- who want her to marry for money instead of working- and this is her first case. She is saddled with her brother/cousin (cousin, but adopted into her family) Matiu, an ex-con who is somewhat psychic and has a personal demon that just may be real. He works for the family car service, and is Penny’s official driver/body guard.
The case is a locked room mystery- a room locked from the inside, with not even a dead body inside, just empty clothes, an inscribed bowl, and blood. Lots of blood. Matiu finds the bowl irresistible, and, despite the crime scene tape, picks it up and has a nasty vision, of the “We cannot stop here this is Lovecraft country” sort. Things get weirder with every encounter- a visit to a dog fighting camp turns into a full on horror fest.
There is a bit of an X-Files vibe, with Penny the rational scientist and Matiu the psychic. The world that the story is set in seems pretty grim, but it is not post-apocalyptic grim. The author uses present tense narration, which I frequently find annoying but he made it flow. My big gripe with the story is that it ends on a bit of a cliff hanger, and I was not aware ahead of time that it was a series. Four stars.
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